Posted October 25, 2017
Temple alumna nominated for Barrymore Awards reflects on education, career
Brenna Geffers, a 2009 graduate of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts’ master of fine arts in directing program, says Temple impacts her work “in every way, every day.”
It’s been nearly a decade since Brenna Geffers graduated from Temple’s School of Theater, Film and Media Arts with her master of fine arts in directing—but Temple still influences her work every day.
At Temple, Geffers met people with whom she still collaborates. This year, she is nominated for four of Theatre Philadelphia’s Barrymore Awards for her play, Anna.
“I met some of my most cherished collaborators there, both actors and designers,” Geffers, TFM ’09, said recently, reflecting on her career and her Barrymore nominations for outstanding direction, outstanding ensemble, outstanding new play and outstanding choreography.
“That is one of the special things about Temple,” she added. “It is more than just a school, it is a place where you begin to draw connections and threads of collaboration that impact your work in every way, every day.”
Some of her best memories from her days in the MFA program include taking a class taught by artist Emmanuelle Delpech, and creating a 15-minute version of the movie Stand By Me as part of it. “That class made me laugh until I cried, stretched my imagination into shapes I didn’t even know about, and made me a better artist and a better collaborator,” Geffers said.
That is one of the special things about Temple. It is more than just a school, it is a place where you begin to draw connections and threads of collaboration that impact your work in every way, every day.”
-- Brenna Geffers, TFM '09
Her master’s thesis, a production of Cabaret at the Prince Music Theater, also stands out in her memory. “I have always loved that show, and to work on it with people whom I cared about deeply and believed in fiercely was artistic heaven,” she said.
Anna, Geffers’ most recent work, is an adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina created for Philadelphia’s EgoPo Classic Theater. To make the play the best, most passionate work possible, Geffers said she scrapped her adaptation at the last minute to tailor it to current events.
"I began working on it during the summer of 2016, but in November, when the election went the way it did, I had to come to terms that our country found a man who bragged about sexual harassment and assault to be a suitable leader. All I could think was, 'We have to try again,'" she explained. "I wanted a piece that expressed the ever-looping cycle of trying and failing to get women to be considered human beings."
Temple’s influence on Geffers’ work and career extends to Anna, too: She shares the Barrymore nomination for outstanding choreography with current Temple graduate student K. O’Rourke. Many collaborators she’s known since her days at Temple—including Dom Chacon, TFM '09, who designed lights for her thesis performance of Cabaret, and Cabaret performers Maria Konstantinidis, KLN '12, and Joe Wozniak—were also heavily involved in Anna.
“For me, Anna is the result of years of love and trust and collaboration among many artists,” Geffers said. “I count myself to be the luckiest director in town to have these artists by my side.”
Temple University is a proud sponsor of this year’s Barrymore Awards and of the Temple University Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Play. The School of Theater, Film and Media Arts, celebrating 50 years of training artists and performers, congratulates Brenna Geffers and all its students and alumni who are nominated.